You can tell from the outside that the Selwerd III building is way past its prime. Unadorned windows look into empty rooms. The bicycle shelter only holds a handful of bikes. Only a few doorbells actually have matching nameplates. The building at the Duindoornstraat looks as good as abandoned.
Perhaps that is exactly why Azim A. came here to hide. He is suspected of having fired the shots that paralysed a 21-year-old student for life on Sunday, 15 October at the Korreweg. His name and picture were spread far and wide, and everyone both in the city and outside it was keeping their eyes peeled for him.
On Monday afternoon, the police finally caught up with him. A special arrest team apprehended him in the nearly deserted student flat Selwerd III, approximately two kilometres from where he is alleged to have fired the shots.
‘I saw the police enter’, one resident says. ‘They broke down the door with some kind of hammer.’ Another resident adds: ‘He actually tried to run. How stupid can you be, to think that you’ll actually get away?’
The arrest team has left its marks. There are big dents in the door. The door handle has broken off and the door has been sealed with a padlock on the bottom. The room is small, as all rooms in this building are. ‘Eleven square metres. The fact that someone managed to hide there…’
They don’t know how long Azim A. had been hiding in Selwerd III. How long he thought he’d last is probably something only he knows. Maybe he thought that eleven square metres in a desolated building beat a jail cell. Maybe he thought that if he just kept quiet and no one saw him, he’d be all right.
‘It all happened so fast yesterday afternoon’, the resident says. ‘The police officers reached his room in no time, apprehending him. Then they told me to go back to my own room.’
The residents of the flat prefer not to tell us their names, or on which floor they live. In fact, they were hesitant to even open the door to us. Because what if Azim A. has friends, out for revenge? What if they think the residents are the ones who called the police?
They’re frightened. Truly frightened. A wanted man, one who has repeatedly been said to be dangerous and in possession of a firearm, was hiding in their flat. ‘We saw his picture on the news. How did we never run into him?’
They have been the last two people on their floor for a while now. ‘There are only thirty or so people left in the whole building’, the residents estimate. ‘I was set to move in February’, one of them says. ‘But now I’m leaving as soon as I can. I don’t want to live here anymore.’